Skip to content

Where Bush and the Pope Agree, and Disagree

Interview With Journalism Fellow Andrea Kirk

ROME, FEB. 16, 2004 (Zenit) - John Paul II and U.S. President George Bush have serious differences over the Iraqi war, but still try to work together on common ends, says a journalism fellow who is writing a book on the subject.

Andrea Kirk, a recipient of the Phillips Foundation Journalism Fellowship, shared some of her findings after finishing the first installment of her work.

Kirk's research and analysis of the points of convergence and divergence in the social and foreign policy of the Pope and the president will appear as a book in the United States later this year. She is a free-lance writer published by Inside the Vatican magazine, Our Sunday Visitor and United Press International.

Q: The purpose of your fellowship research is to find convergences and divergences between the policies of George W. Bush and John Paul II. Which did you find more of?

Kirk: Generally speaking, the Pope and the president have a great deal of convergence in the area of social policy but quite significant divergence in foreign policy.

This president had a personal conversion to Christ, which is reflected in some of his policies concerning, for example, the faith based initiative and funding for abstinence education in HIV/AIDS prevention.

There is a running theme of behavioral change -- not unlike conversion -- in many of his social policies, which he has dubbed "compassionate conservatism."

But some analysts argue that Bush's approach to social policy is a distinctly Protestant one, and would not find much resonance with the Vatican. This theory has yet to be tested, however, because following September 11, President Bush became a self-declared "war president" and the war on terrorism took precedent over these social policy initiatives.

Q: What are the divergences?

Kirk: The divergences became apparent in the lead-up to war with Iraq, but were more than just differences over whether or not to invade Iraq.

Many themes in Vatican "foreign policy," or social teaching on international relations, emerged that demonstrated differences over the role of the United Nations, unilateralism, diplomacy, and just cause in war.

One policy in particular set the two at odds. In the time from the terrorist attacks on the United States to the war in Iraq, the Bush administration adopted a new foreign policy that most Vatican officials found they could not agree with on principle. Cardinal Ratzinger bluntly stated that preventative war was incompatible with the Catechism, with many Vatican officials suggesting that waging such a war with Iraq would then be illegal.

The Bush administration conducts its foreign policy and diplomacy in a very different style than the Vatican's. Of course, it's inherently problematic to compare a temporal power with a spiritual power. Having said that, however, the two are both working for similar stated ends, in their own, sometimes divergent, ways.

The administration has made an effort since 9/11 to be seen as an advocate of human rights, justice and freedom, particularly for the oppressed citizens of the Hussein regime. It framed the war in those terms by giving it the name Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The Vatican, while being a consistent advocate of those ends, has shown its opposition to the means the Bush administration employs. The Pope has expressed it clearly in such statements as "The end never justifies the means" in his 2004 World Day of Peace message or "War is never just another means that one can choose to employ for settling differences between nations" in his address to diplomats in January 2003.

Q: What are relations like between the Bush administration and the Vatican in the postwar situation?

Kirk: The recent visit of Vice President Cheney with the Pope, Cardinal Sodano and Archbishop Lajolo was significant, I think, because Cheney was one of the main architects of the operation in Iraq.

The conversation centered on how to build a peaceful society in there, as well as in Israel and Palestine. It's a tangible example of how the Vatican has shifted its mission from war-prevention to peace-building, as it would naturally do considering the aim of the Church's mission is always the welfare of the people.

The Vatican and the administration can find some common ground in peace-building because the Church is concerned with, among other issues, securing freedom of religion in the future Iraqi Constitution.

The meeting with the vice president also provided the Pope with an occasion to re-emphasize his belief in the necessity of international cooperation "in the service of peace," which we can assume implies working with the United Nations.

As I point out in my paper, however, the Vatican has been very critical of the U.N.'s inability to meet the challenge of preventing war through the exercise of its mandate and its resolutions.

Since the World Day of Peace message, the call for a reform of the U.N. has been echoed again and again by Vatican officials, with the intention of strengthening enough to resume its proper role. If it does not, the Bush administration may continue to fight the war on terrorism in its own way, if they retain the White House for another term.


Catholic Online CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000



Bush, Pope, Iraq

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.